Myanmar junta minister heads to Beijing for security talks

By Muhammad JuniadPublished On 25 Apr 2024

YANGON: The Myanmar junta’s home minister has left for China for security talks with Beijing’s minister for public security, state media said Thursday.

Lieutenant-General Yar Pyae left for China on Wednesday for a “working visit to discuss law enforcement and security cooperation from 24 to 29 April” at the invitation of Wang Xiaohong, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar.

It did not give further details but ties between the junta and Beijing — a major ally and arms supplier — have frayed in recent months over the mushrooming of online scam compounds in Myanmar’s borderlands.

The compounds are staffed by citizens of China and other countries who are often trafficked and forced to work swindling their compatriots.

China repeatedly told Myanmar’s military to crack down on the industry concentrated in northern Shan state, which analysts say is worth billions of dollars a year.

A lightning offensive last year by ethnic armed groups that seized territory and lucrative border crossings had China’s tacit backing over the junta’s failure to act, according to analysts.

A joint crackdown by China and the junta has since seen tens of thousands arrested and deported to China, including several high-profile scam bosses.

But a United States Institute of Peace report said this week that the “vast majority” of the syndicates have shifted to Karen State on the Thai border, where they are hosted by local militia groups.

The groups operating around the border hub of Myawaddy can call on thousands of fighters, analysts say.